The South (capital s included) does something strange to you. I lived there for the first two years of my life, and more recently the four years of college. I didn’t come back north of the Mason Dixon line often, so I can say that I lived down there. More often than not, I’d take my vacations in Savannah or Charleston, sometimes Atlanta, and one summer: all over the South. And as a result, I have this strange affinity for Southern things. I have this strange pride for Southern fare, be that food or houses or the draw; there is something that the South can do to you to make you fall in love.
As tried and true readers might know, I also have an affinity for cooking people lots of food. Sometimes it is lots of people lots of food, like last Sunday. I sent out an email around Thursday saying “I have a ton of food. I want to cook it. Come over and eat it. Bring nothing but yourself, hunger, and maybe a friend.” After a few responses, and knowledge that it wasn’t just going to be me and my roommate taking down a feast of food, I started to devise a plan.
The first ingredients that I looked at, which in turn shaped my entire menu, were collard greens. These leathery, huge, elephant ear-like greens are a staple in my southern diet. Anytime I see them on the menu, I get them. With bacon, or without. With maple syrup or without. Slow-cooked for about twelve hours so that they are best eaten with a spoon or only blanched and in that case, a knife would be honorable.
After that, my CSA veggies fell into place. Collards with Brooklyn cured ham. Cornbread biscuits with buttermilk. Mashed potatoes with a half pound of butter, and a half pound of cheddar cheese. A spinach salad with orange surpremes and braised balsamic onions. Mustard roasted Squash and carrots so that they were soft, mushy, and freaking delectable. Coleslaw made of cabbage, celery root, and golden beets. Lentil soup with kale and parsnips (prepared like split pea soup). And for those brave enough to trudge on through another course, or those simply holding the idea that there must be a dessert as truth: banana cream pie.
The meal started at 8:15 and ended three hours later with a bottle of wine or three, courses and talk of New York and the South and all the meanwhile, sitting at the head of the table, I felt I had provided for my friends, just as any good Southern Family would. They traveled to me, so I fed them. It’s simply southern, in a third story Brooklyn apartment.